There is no magic bullet for a hit song. When I first started I swore that if I just came out with that hit single, everything would take off. In reality, there is so much more that goes into it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Benny Duhay. Influenced by artists like Kanye West & Drake, rapper Benny Duhay’s unique style pairs seamlessly with his new hit “Mexico”’s laid back, celebratory vibes. As a first generation immigrant from Tel Aviv, English was not Benny’s first language. Not knowing that one day he’d join the ranks of lyrical masterminds, he conveniently picked it up rather quickly. He found his love for Hip Hop very early on in life as he started writing poetry while listening to artists like Eminem and Lupe Fiasco. When he got older, he began to record, which led him to performance opportunities all over California. Benny plans to round out 2020 with quite a few releases, hoping to stay creative throughout the unknowns and turbulence that this year has brought the world. Benny Duhay is easily an ‘artist to watch’ coming out of the west coast & it all begins with “Mexico”.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/8ae1f9a6f0555ce9ab54b0516f79680a
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up an only child to immigrant parents who moved the family to Los Angeles when I was nine years old. I always say that I was born in Tel Aviv and raised in LA because it truly feels like my personality and who I am is really a combination of these places. It was not until I was almost 10 that I became completely fluent in English and growing up as an immigrant kid without basic language skills was challenging at times. I first gravitated towards athletics and team activities and made friends through the basketball and football teams that I was on. But my love for music quickly became a key part in my growth as a person. In fact music and poetry were both extremely important in my understanding of the English language. I was able to recite song lyrics long before I ever even understood what they meant. Many of my friends today are the same friends that I grew up with, the same friends who I’ve made music with for years now.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started writing lyrics and poetry in middle school and high school. Although I didn’t record in a “real” studio until after high school, I have been passionate about writing songs and producing songs since I was fourteen. I’ve always felt as though my story was something that I wanted to share with the world. Growing up I didn’t hear any rappers or musicians in general that told a story similar to mine and I felt that it was important for kids similar to me to have a voice and have artists that they can relate to. Maybe not everyone will relate to every aspect of my story but I truly believe that everyone can relate to my hunger for success, desire to contribute positive music to help those that feel down and ultimately achieve my dreams and make them a reality.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I don’t know for certain that this is the most interesting thing that has happened but it was definitely one of the more surreal moments of my career. I was booked for a show at the viper room to open up for an artist that I was somewhat unfamiliar with at the time, Bas. What I did not know at the time was that Bas was actually signed to DreamVille which is J Cole’s label. J Cole is one of the artists I’ve listened to growing up and he’s always been someone that I was a huge fan of, definitely on my top 10 rappers of all time list. Well as I got off stage I noticed a huge group of people walking towards a section of the Viper room and to my surprise, it was J Cole with a bunch of people flocking over to him. Later on in the night I had a brief chance to exchange a few words with him, he congratulated me on my set, I believe he said something along the lines of, good stuff up there. He then made a surprise appearance on stage when Bas took the stage for his performance. It was a very surreal experience. If you have not been to the viper room before, while it is a historic venue, it is not a very large venue. Getting to see J Cole perform in such an intimate setting and less than 30 minutes after I was just on that same stage was definitely quite the experience. I miss live shows.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the mistakes I made very early on in my career was the way I approached studio time and recording in general. I’m not sure that a lot of rappers would agree with me on this because it truly is a preference thing but early on I’d try to make every recording session a party. I realized pretty early on that it was not the way to go, at least not for me. I found myself spending 6–7 hours in the studio without getting nearly enough done. Nowadays, I normally would not even book studio time until I have recorded some sort of rough version of the song in my home studio. I am all business when it comes to studio time now, we can party when we shoot the music video!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am super excited about my newest release, “Mexico”. With everything going on right now I really wanted to release a song that could take listeners somewhere outside their homes or outside of the current shelter in place reality. Some sort of an escape. What better place than one of my favorite places on earth, Mexico. It really is a fun party song you can vibe out to this summer and hopefully include in your party playlist. I’m also really excited about my upcoming Benny Raps series. The series will consist of an episode every two weeks or so with creative updates on where I’m at in life, where things are in my career or simply where things are in our world.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think diversity is important in just about every aspect of our culture especially in the entertainment industry. As entertainers we have huge responsibilities because people look up to us and if we’re not a diverse group it is going to be tough for a lot of people who watch us to be able to relate. In a sense if there is no diversity in the entertainment industry it would leave so many people in America and in the world underrepresented. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I’ve always felt as though it is very important for me to represent kids that grew up similarly to how I grew up. Because growing up, there just weren’t very many first generation immigrants that I watched on tv or listened to on the radio and I always looked for an artist that fits that criteria.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- There is no magic bullet for a hit song-When I first started I swore that if I just came out with that hit single, everything would take off. In reality, there is so much more that goes into it.
- Collaboration is key-I used to really shy away from collaborations when I first started but it honestly has been key to my growth as an artist.
- Don’t expect every fan to like every song you make-I used to get offended when my followers on twitter or Instagram told me they didn’t like a song I released but truth of the matter is not everyone is going to like everything you do.
- Don’t be afraid to make music outside your “lane”-when I first started I really limited myself when it came to which beats I worked on or what sounds I thought would work best with my delivery but the truth is the moment I let myself get uncomfortable, I grew as an artist.
- Say no to certain shows-I used to accept pretty much every show that wanted to book me, but I’ve learned that there definitely are shows that you can pass on and not really miss out on anything. Sometimes less is more, although after we get through this pandemic I’m probably going to try to do 365 shows a year.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say, as I alluded to earlier, collaboration is key. The music industry is a grind and things will not always go your way but if you have a solid team around you they can truly help make sure that the lows aren’t too low and that you also don’t let the highs be too high.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This one is tough because there really are a lot of causes that I am passionate about. If I were to inspire a movement it would be for equality and loving each other. There just isn’t any room for hate in the world, we’re fighting microbes that are killing us, we’re literally on a planet with the only sustainable living organisms in a lonely galaxy yet we still find reasons to find hate for people who are just like us. I don’t care what you look like or where you’re from, we are all human and it is mind blowing to me that we have a hard time sticking together and helping each other because we are literally all we have.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are quite a few people that come to mind here because there have been so many people that have helped me grow as an artist. If I had to choose one particular person it would be one of my producers who I have been working with for years now, Paul “Goldo” Goldowitz. Goldo has never turned down any of my song ideas (even when he should have), he has always been a supporter of creating a different sound and has really been instrumental (no pun intended) in me becoming the artist that I am today. Just recently we started working on a new project via Zoom which is coming out great. Just a part of making music during a pandemic.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’ll do you one better, I’ll give you my life lesson poem, Langston Hughes-Harlem. If you’re reading this and you are not familiar with the poem please look it up. I think for me personally, the poem has served as inspiration to follow my dream and not let it become a dream deferred.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It makes me sad thinking about this because a year ago I would’ve said Kobe Bryant. But one person I would love to meet and get to have a meal with would be Drake. There are just so many things that I believe I could learn from him as an artist. There aren’t very many artists that have crossed genres and have had as much success as he’s had and I would love to take some notes and learn. I also think we’d make a ridiculous track together so Drizzy if you’re reading this, it’s not too late!
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram (@Benny_Duhay), Twitter (@BennyDuhay), Facebook (@BennyDuhay) or on my website BennyDuhay.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!